Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/68

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54
POMPEII


earthquake of 63. It appears, however, that these two establishments were found inadequate to supply the wants of the inhabitants, and a third edifice of the same character, the socalled central baths, at the corner of the Strada Stabiana and the Strada di Nola, but on a still more extensive scale, intended for men only, while the other two had separate accommodation for both sexes, was in course of construction when the town was overwhelmed.

Great as is the interest attached to the various public buildings of Pompeii, and valuable as is the light that they have in some instances thrown upon similar edifices in other ruined cities, far more curious and interesting is the insight afforded us by the numerous private houses and shops into the ordinary life and habits of the population of an ancient town. 'The houses at Pompeii are generally low, rarely exceeding two storeys in height, and it appears certain that the upper storey was generally of a slight construction, and occupied by small rooms, serving as garrets, or sleeping places for slaves, and perhaps for the females of the family. From the mode of destruction of the city these upper floors were in most cases crushed in and destroyed, and hence it was long believed that the houses for the most part had but one storey; but recent researches have in many cases brought to light incontestable evidence of the existence of an upper floor, and the frequent occurrence of a small staircase is in itself sufficient proof of the fact. The windows, as already mentioned, were generally small and insignificant, and contributed nothing to the external decoration or effect of the houses, which took both fight and air from the inside, not from the outside. In some cases they were undoubtedly closed with glass, but its use appears to have been by no means general. The principal living rooms, as well as those intended for the reception of guests or clients, were all on the ground floor, the centre being formed by the atrium, or hall, which was almost always open above to the air, and in the larger houses was generally surrounded with columns. Into this opened other rooms, the entrances to which seem to have been rarely protected by doors, and could only have been closed by curtains. At the back was a garden. Later, under Greek influences, a peristyle with rooms round it was added in place of the garden. We notice that, as in modern Italy until quite recent years, elaborate precautions were taken against heat, but none against cold, which was patiently endured. Hypocausts are only found in connexion with bathrooms.

All the apartments and arrangements described by Vitruvius and other ancient writers may be readily traced in the houses of Pompeii, and in many instances these have for the first time enabled us to understand the technical terms and details transmitted to us by Latin authors. We must not, however, hastily assume that the examples thus preserved to us by a singular accident are to be taken as representing the style of building in all the Roman and Italian towns. We know from Cicero that Capua was remarkable for its broad streets and widespread buildings, and it is probable that the Campanian towns in general partook of the same character. At Pompeii indeed the streets were not wide, but they were straight and regular, and the houses of the better class occupied considerable spaces, presenting in this respect no doubt a striking contrast, not only with those of Rome itself, but with those of many other Italian towns, where the buildings would necessarily be huddled together from the circumstances of their position. Even at Pompeii itself, on the west side of the city, where the ground slopes somewhat steeply towards the sea, houses are found which consisted of three storeys or more, »

The excavations have provided examples of houses of every description, from the humble dwelling-place of the artisan or proletarian, with only three or four small rooms, to the stately mansions of Sallust, of the Faun, of the Golden Cupids, of the Silver Wedding, of the Vettii, of Pansa, ' &c.-the last of which is among the most regular in plan, and may be taken as an almost 1 It may be observed that the names given in most cases to the houses are either arbitrary or founded in the first instance upon erroneous inferences.

perfect model of a-complete Roman house of a superior class. But the general similarity in their plan and arrangement is very striking, and in all those that rise above a very humble class the leading divisions of the interior, the atrium, lablinum, peristyle, &c. may be traced with unfailing regularity. Another peculiarity that is found in all the more considerable houses in Pompeii is that of the front, where it faces one of the principal streets, being occupied with shops, usually of small size, and without any communication with the interior of the mansion. In a few instances indeed such a communication is found, but in these cases it is probable that the shop was used for the sale of articles grown upon the estate of the proprietor, such as wine, fruit, oil, &c., a practice that is' still common in Italy. In general the shop had a very small apartment behind it, and probably in most cases a sleeping chamber above it, thoughof this the only remaining evidence is usually a portion of the staircase that led to this upper room. The front of the shop was open to the street, but was capable of being closed with wooden shutters, the remains of which have in a few instances been preserved. Not only have the shopsof silversmiths been recognized by the precious objects of that metal found in them, but large quantities of fruits of various kinds preserved in glass vessels, various de» script ions of corn and pulse, loaves of bread, moulds for pastry, fishing-nets and many other objects too numerous to mention, have been found in such a condition as to be identified without difficulty. Inns and wine-shops appear to have been numerous; one-of the latter we can see to have been a thermopolium, where hot drinks were sold. Bakers' shops are also frequent, though arrangements 'for grinding and baking appear to have formed part of every large family establishment. In other cases, however, these were on a larger scale, provided with numerous querns or hand-mills of the well-known form, evidently intended for public supply. Another establishment on a large scale was a fullonica (fuller's shop), where all the details of the business were 'illustrated by paintings still visible on the walls. Dyers shops, a tannery and a shop where colours were ground and manufactured-an important business where almost all the rooms of every house were painted-are of special interest, as is also the house of a surgeon, where numerous surgical instruments were found, some of them of a very ingenious and elaborate description, but all made of bronze. Another curious discovery was that of the abode of a sculptor, containing his tools, as well as blocks of marble and half-finished statues. The number of utensils of various kinds found in the houses and shops is almost endless, and, as these are in most cases of bronze, they are generally in perfect preservation.

Of the numerous works of art discovered in the course of the excavations the statues and large works of sculpture, whether in marble or bronze, are inferior to those found at Herculaneum, but some of the bronze statuettes are of exquisite workmanship, while the profusion of ornamental works and objects in bronze and the elegance of their design, as well as the finished beauty of their execution, are such as to excite the utmost admiration more especially when it is considered that these are the casual results of the examination of a second-rate provincial town, which had, further, been ransacked for valuables (as Herculaneum had not) after the eruption of 79. The same impression is produced in a still higher degree by the paintings with which the walls of the private houses, as well as those of the temples and other public buildings, are adorned, and which are not.merely of a decorative character, but in many instances present us with elaborate compositions of figures, historical and mythological scenes, as well as representations of the ordinary life and manners of the people, which are full of interest to us, though often of inferior artistic execution. It has until lately been the practice to, remove these to the museum at Naples; but the present tendency is to leave them (and even the movable objects found in the houses) in situ with all due precautions as to their preservation (as in the house of the Vettii, , of the Silver Wedding, of the Golden Cupids, &c.), which adds immensely to the interest of the houses; indeed, with the help of judicious restoration, their original condition is in large